Naturism, or nudism, is a cultural and political movement practicing, advocating, and defending personal and social nudity, most but not all of which takes place on private property. The term may also refer to a lifestyle based on personal, family, or social nudity. Naturism may take a number of forms. It may be practiced individually, within a family, socially, or in public. Additionally, there is also militant naturism, including campaigning, and extreme naturism is sometimes considered a separate category.
- 1 Definition and lexicology
- 2 Personal and family nudity
- 3 Social nudism
- 4 History
- 5 Philosophy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 In Europe
- 8 In North America
- 9 In Asia
- 10 Issues in social nudity
- 11 See also
- 12 Footnotes
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Definition and lexicology
- a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.
Several other terms ("social nudity", "public nudity", "skinny dipping", "sunning", and "clothes-free") have been proposed as alternative terms for naturism, but none has found the same widespread public acceptance as the older terms "naturism" and (in much of the United States) "nudism".
Many contemporary naturists and naturist organisations feel that the practice of social nudity should be asexual. For various social, cultural, and historical reasons the lay public, the media, and many contemporary naturists and their organisations often oversimplify the relationship between naturism and sexuality. Current research has begun to explore this complex relationship.
The International Naturist Federation explains:
- "Each country has its own kind of naturism, and even each club has its own special character, for we too, human beings, have each our own character which is reflected in our surroundings."[a]
The usage and definition of these terms varies geographically and historically.[b] Though in the United States, naturism and nudism have the same meaning, in Britain there is a clear distinction.[c]
Nudism is the act of being naked, while naturism is a lifestyle which at various times embraced nature, environment, respect for others, self-respect, crafts, healthy eating, vegetarianism, teetotalism, non-smoking, yoga, physical exercise and pacifism as well as nudity.[d][e]
In naturist parlance, textile or textilist is a non-naturist person, non-naturist behaviour or non-naturist facilities. e.g. the textile beach starts at the flag, they are a mixed couple – he is naturist, she is textile. Textile is the predominant term used in the UK ('textilist' is unknown in British naturist magazines including H&E naturist), although some naturists avoid it due to perceived negative or derogatory connotations. Textilist is said to be used interchangeably, but no dictionary definition to this effect exists, nor are there any equivalent examples of use in mainstream literature such as those for textile. Clothing optional and nude optional (US specific) describe a policy or a venue that allows or encourages nudity but tolerates the wearing of clothes. The opposite is clothing compulsory; that is, prohibiting nudity. Adjectival phrases clothes free and clothing free prescribe where naturism is permitted in an otherwise textile environment, or define the preferred state of a naturist.
The social nudity movement includes a large range of variants including "naturism", "nudism", "Freikörperkultur (FKK)", the "free beach movement" as well as generalized "public lands/public nudity" advocacy. There is a large amount of shared history and common themes, issues and philosophy, but differences between these separate movements remain contentious.
- See also: labels, associations and terminology for an extended discussion and disambiguation.
Personal and family nudity
Many people are often nude in the privacy of their home or garden, either alone or with members of the family; naturists normally refer to them as at-home-nudists or closet-nudists. This may be occasional nudity or as a naturist lifestyle. There are differences of opinion as to whether, and if so to what extent, parents should appear naked in front of their children, and whether children should be nude within the home in the view of their family as well as visitors. This has attracted a great deal of academic study.
A United States study by Alfred Kinsey (1948–1953) found that 75% of the participants stated that there was never nudity in the home when they were growing up, 5% of the participants said that there was "seldom" nudity in the home, 3% said "often", and 17% said that it was "usual". The study found that there was no significant difference between what was reported by men and by women with respect to frequency of nudity in the home.
Gordon and Schroeder in 1995 reported that parental nudity varies considerably from family to family. They say that "there is nothing inherently wrong with bathing with children or otherwise appearing naked in front of them", noting that doing so may provide an opportunity for parents to provide important information. They note that by ages 5 to 6 children begin to develop a sense of modesty, and recommend to parents who wish to be sensitive to their children's wishes that they limit such activities from that age onwards.
In a 1995 review of the literature, Paul Okami concluded that there was no reliable evidence linking exposure to parental nudity to any negative effect. Three years later, his team finished an 18-year longitudinal study that showed that, if anything, such exposure was associated with slight beneficial effects, particularly for boys.
Smith and Sparks in their study on the effects of social nudity on children conclude that "the viewing of the unclothed body, far from being destructive to the psyche, seems to be either benign and totally harmless or to actually provide positive benefits to the individuals involved.
The rhetoric of the nudism and anti-nudism movements emphasizes freedom from many of the normal constraints which regulate human interaction in nudist settings, although for different reasons. Using data from French and German beaches, this hypothesis was tested using five different indicators. Little significant variation between nudists and non-nudists within French and German settings is found in their patterns of interactional spacing, while more significant main effects for differences of cultures are found regardless of nudity status. As a subculture, nudists would appear to differ from nonnudists only in their propensity to like to sunbathe in the nude. Their nude status would appear to have none of the de-inhibiting effects often attributed to nudism. By contrast, clear cultural differences between German and French cultures are shown consistent with Hall's high-low context distinction and the Francoeur's hot-cool sexuality continuum.
At naturist organised events or venues clothing is usually optional, except by swimming pools or sunbathing lawns where complete nudity is expected, weather permitting. This rule is sometimes a source of controversy among some naturists. Staff at a naturist facility are usually required to be clothed due to health and safety regulations.
Facilities for naturists are classified in various ways. A landed or members' naturist club is one that owns its own facilities, while non-landed (or travel) clubs meet at various locations, such as private residences, swimming pools, hot springs, landed clubs and resorts, and rented facilities. Landed clubs can be run by members on democratic lines or by one or more owners who make the rules. In either case, they can determine membership criteria and the obligations of members. This usually involves sharing work necessary to maintain or develop the site.
Some clubs have stricter entrance requirements than some traditional 'country clubs', including the requirement to supply references, a sponsoring member, a trial membership, committee approval or, criminal background checks. UK clubs are now required to have child-protection policies in place, and designated child-protection officers. Many clubs promote frequent social activities.
The international naturist organizations were mainly composed of representatives of landed clubs. Nudist colony is no longer a favored term, but it is used by naturists as a term of derision for landed clubs that have rigid non-inclusive membership criteria, and in meta-data on naturist websites.
A holiday centre is a facility that specializes in providing apartments, chalets and camping pitches for visiting holidaymakers. The center is run commercially, and visitors are not members and have no say in the management. Most holiday centers expect visitors to hold an INF card, that is, be a member of their national organization, but some have relaxed this restriction, relying on the carrying of a trade card. Holiday centers can be quite small, just a couple of hectares or large occupying over 300 hectares.[f] In a large holiday centre there will be swimming pools, sports pitches, an entertainment program, kids' clubs, restaurants and supermarkets. Some holiday centres allow regular visitors to purchase their own chalets, and generations of the same families will visit each year. Holiday centres are more tolerant of clothing than members-only clubs; total nudity is usually compulsory in the swimming pools and may be expected on the beaches, while on the football pitches, or in the restaurants in the evening, it is rare.
A naturist resort is, to a European, an essentially urban development where naturism is the norm. Cap d'Agde in France, naturist village Charco del Palo on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Vera Playa in Spain and Vritomartis in Greece are examples. Some residents use these resorts as a year-round home.
In US usage, a naturist resort can mean a holiday centre.
Freikörperkultur (FKK) literally translated as 'free body culture' is the name for the general movement in Germany. The abbreviation is widely recognised all over Europe and often found on informal signs indicating the direction to a remote naturist beach.
Clothing is optional at nude beaches (or "free beaches"). A feature of bathing on a nude beach is the anonymity it offers, with membership of a club not being required, nor detailed application processes, nor pre-booking of visits.[original research?]
In some European countries, such as Denmark, all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany and experimentally in France, there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich and Berlin. Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also clothing-optional, except some central urban beaches. There are two centrally located clothes-optional beaches in Barcelona.
Naturism and sports
Naturism encourages a healthy life style, and many naturist clubs at times organize and encourage members to take part in local and international sport events and competitions. The German Association for Free Body Culture (DFK) promotes recreational sports and is a member of the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB).
The series of 1970s Nambassa hippie festivals held in New Zealand is a further example of non-sexualized naturism. Of the 75,000 patrons who attended the 1979 Nambassa 3 day counterculture Festival an estimated 35% of festival attendees spontaneously chose to remove their clothing, preferring complete or partial nudity.'
Roskilde festival in Denmark hosts a naked run, that has become one of the most popular events there.
Perhaps the biggest and most famous modern festival where participants spontaneously decide to go naked or take part in nude events is Burning Man, which features a naked bike ride known as the "Naked Pub Crawl".
Florida Young Naturists has organized seasonal "Bashes" hosted by several Florida nudist/naturist clubs and resorts since 2008.
Organized by the Federación Nudista de México (Mexican Nudist Federation) since 2016 when Zipolite beach nudity was legalized, FESTIVAL NUDISTA ZIPOLITE occurs annually on the first weekend of February.
Nudist festivals are also held to celebrate particular days of the year, and in many such events nude bodypainting is also common, such as Neptune Day Festival held in Koktebel, Crimea to depict mythological events; the Solstice Cyclists nudist events celebrating the summer solstice held in Fremont, Seattle, United States; the Naked Pumpkin Run held in US to celebrate Halloween; and the World Naked Gardening Day held to celebrate gardening.
The prevalence of naturism tends to increase during the summer months especially when the temperature is higher with some regions experiencing first-time naturists and people who have transitioned to becoming a naturist. Some studies have observed that among some of these naturists, they are clothed during other seasons, thus making them seasonal naturists. This quiddity has caught the public perception and comprehension of public nudity, and thus it is frequently equated with summer destinations such as beaches.
Nudity in social contexts has been practised in various forms by many cultures at all time periods. In Western society nowadays, social nudity is most frequently encountered in the contexts of bathing, swimming and in saunas, whether in single-sex groups, within the family or with mixed-sex friends, but throughout history and in many tropical cultures until now, nudity is a norm at many sports events and competitions.
It is difficult to nominate exactly when naturism started as a movement. The word 'naturism' was used for the first time in 1778 by a French-speaking Belgian, Jean Baptiste Luc Planchon (1734–1781), and was advocated as a means of improving the hygiène de vie or healthy living.[g]
The earliest known naturist club in the "western" sense of the word was established in British India in 1891. The 'Fellowship of the Naked Trust' was founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a widower, who was a District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service. The commune was based in Matheran and had just three members at the beginning; Crawford and two sons of an Anglican missionary, Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood.[h] The commune fell apart when Crawford was transferred to Ratnagiri; he died soon after in 1894.
In 1902, a series of philosophical papers was published in Germany by Dr. Heinrich Pudor, under the pseudonym Heinrich Scham, who coined the term Nacktkultur. In 1906 he went on to write a three volume treatise with his new term as its title, which discussed the benefits of nudity in co-education and advocated participating in sports while being free of cumbersome clothing. Richard Ungewitter (Nacktheit, 1906, Nackt, 1908, etc.) proposed that combining physical fitness, sunlight, and fresh air bathing, and then adding the nudist philosophy, contributed to mental and psychological fitness, good health, and an improved moral-life view. Major promoters of these ideas included Adolf Koch and Hans Suren. Germany published the first journal of nudism between 1902 and 1932.
The wide publication of those papers and others, contributed to an explosive worldwide growth of nudism, in which nudists participated in various social, recreational, and physical fitness activities in the nude. The first organized club for nudists on a large scale, Freilichtpark (Free-Light Park), was opened near Hamburg in 1903 by Paul Zimmerman. In 1919, German doctor Kurt Huldschinsky discovered that exposure to sunlight helped to cure rickets in many children, causing sunlight to be associated with improved health.
In France in the early 20th century, the brothers Gaston and André Durville, both of them physicians, studied the effects of psychology, nutrition, and environment on health and healing. They became convinced of the importance of natural foods and the natural environment on human well-being and health. They named this concept French: naturisme. The profound effect of clean air and sunlight on human bodies became evident to them and so nudity became a part of their naturism.
Naturism became a more widespread phenomenon in the 1920s, in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries and spread to the United States where it became established in the 1930s.
By 1951, the national federations united to form the International Naturist Federation or INF. Some naturists preferred not to join clubs, and after 1945, pressure was put to designate beaches for naturist use. From the middle of the 20th century, with changing leisure patterns, commercial organisations began opening holiday resorts to attract naturists who expected the same – or better – standards of comfort and amenity offered to non-naturists. More recently, naturist holiday options have expanded to include cruises.
Naturism had many different philosophical sources and means many things to different people. There is no one definition. In 1974, the INF defined naturism as:
- a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of social nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.
At one end of the spectrum are the nudists who just enjoy a nude life style, and at the other are the naturists, who have deeply held beliefs and see communal nudity as just one of many important principles.
The naturist philosophy has several sources, many of which can be traced back to early 20th century health and fitness philosophies in Germany and England, although the concepts of returning to nature and creating equality have much deeper roots.
Ethical Naturism vs Recreational Naturism
Ethical Naturism vs Recreational Naturism is a concept first introduced by Stéphane Deschênes in the April 2011 episode of The Naturist Living Show Podcast. which attempts to create a taxonomy that classifies the various types of naturists/nudists. Ethical Naturists are described as seeing themselves as part of a philosophy with ethical and moral aspects while recreational nudists are simply participating in a leisure activity that involves nudity.
Gymnosophy and religious nakedness
In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great encountered, in India, wandering groups of naked holy men whom he dubbed the naked philosophers. (Gr gymnos: naked; sophist: knowledge). The philosopher Onesicritus investigated their beliefs and lifestyle. Pyrrho the Sceptic was impressed and incorporated nudity into his philosophy. The Gymnosophists were Hindus, but Jain and Ajivika monks practiced nudity as a statement that they had given up all worldly goods. Nudity was not a new concept to the Greeks as the Olympic Games (founded in 776 BC) were exclusively male and nude events.
Historically, the Adamites, a Gnostic sect, practiced religious nudism. A religious sect in Canada that immigrated from Russia, the Sons of Freedom, went so far in the 1900s (1903-1950s) as to publicly strip in mass public demonstrations to protest against government policies which were meant to assimilate them. Today, Christian naturism contains various members associated with most denominations. Although beliefs vary, a common theme is that much of Christianity has misinterpreted the events regarding the Garden of Eden, and God was displeased with Adam and Eve for covering their bodies with fig leaves.
The first English naturists adopted the name Gymnosophy as a thinly disguised euphemism for their pastime. The English Gymnosophical Society was formed in 1922 and became the New Gymnosophy Society in 1926; they purchased land at 'Bricketts Wood' to become Britain's first nudist colony. One of the first members was Gerald Gardner, who in 1945 established the 'Five Acres Club' nearby, ostensibly as a nudist club, but as a front for Wiccans, as witchcraft was illegal in England until 1951.
The Digambar, one of the two main divisions of the Jain religion of India, remain skyclad, or naked, though generally it is practiced by males. Digambar means 'clothed with the sky'. Wiccans have adopted this wording and some practice their rituals skyclad.
- Elton Raymond Shaw was a Methodist churchman and publisher who wrote on the Body Taboo.
- Heinrich Pudor wrote on methods to improve social hygiene in his book Nackende Menschen und Jauchzen der Zukunft (Naked people and the future of Mankind) and then Nacktkultur (Nude Culture). It prescribes an austere lifestyle and nudity.
- Paul Zimmermann opened the Freilicht Park in Lübeck which was open to those who subscribed to Nacktkultur principles.
- Richard Ungewitter wrote Die Nacktheit (Nakedness) which sold 90,000 copies, prescribed a similar Utopian lifestyle, where everyone would be nude, eat only vegetables and abstain from alcohol and tobacco. In his Utopia, everyone was to be Germanic with blue eyes and blonde hair.
- Adolf Koch, a left-wing primary-school teacher, sought to use social nudity to free the people from 'authority fixated conditioning which held proletarians in deference of their masters: parental authority, paternalism of the church, the mass media and organs of law and order. He used Organic-Rhythmic exercises in Berlin schools in the 1920s. In 1932 there were about 100,000 Germans involved with Naturism, of which 70,000 were in Koch's Körperschülen schools.
- Hans Surén taught nude gymnastics to soldiers for five years, and on being forced to leave the army, he wrote in 1924, Mensch und die Sonne (Men and the Sun) which ran to 61 reprints. Later, in 1936, Surén proposed physical exercise and naturism as a means of creating a pure German race and of beauty. In the early 1940s he was out of favour and arrested. By 1945, he had turned full circle and was writing religious texts. Though never a member of any FKK club he was awarded honorary membership of the DFK in 1952.
- Werner Zimmermann was Swiss. He promoted Progressive education, encouraging naked Physical education to eliminate body guilt and to encourage openness that would lift the repression of the human spirit, which he saw as the cause of sexual deviation. The basic position was that the human body, in and of itself, was neither sinful nor obscene. This was adopted into the emerging philosophy that created the modern Western nudist movement.
Individuals have formed naturist groups for a variety of specific purposes. It is generally agreed by naturist organisations that eroticism and blatant sexuality have no place in naturism and are, in fact, antithetical to its ideals. Reasons that have at times been given:
- Ecological or environmental — rapport with the natural world.
- Health — bathing in the sun, fresh air and water (balneotherapy, thalassotherapy, heliotherapy). Sun is a form of medicine.
- Diet — Naturism has at times been associated with claims made for moderation with alcohol, meat, tobacco, drugs; leading to a teetotal, vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
- Psychologically — rapport with other humans including equality and respect. Being nude in groups makes all feel more accepted – physically, intellectually and emotionally.
- Spirituality — nudity, well being and direct contact to nature helps feel closer to the universe.
- Pedagogy — children should be respected as equals instead of being patronised
- Equality — clothes build social barriers. Social nudity leads to acceptance in spite of differences in age, body shape, fitness, and health.
- Liberty — no one has the right to tell others or their children that they must wear clothes.
Naturism and the romantics
Walt Whitman American writer, A Sun-bathed Nakedness:
Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me... Nature was naked, and I was also... Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! - ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.
We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.
Naturism was part of a literary movement in the late 1800s (see the writings of André Gide) which also influenced the art movements of the time specifically Henri Matisse and other Fauve painters. This movement was based on the French concept of joie de vivre, the idea of reveling freely in physical sensations and direct experiences and a spontaneous approach to life.
Naturism for health
Sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in some skin conditions and enables the body to make vitamin D, but with the increased awareness of skin cancer, wearing of sunscreen is now part of the culture. Sun exposure prompts the body to produce nitric oxide that helps support the cardiovascular system and the feelgood brain-chemical serotonin.
World Naked Bike Ride
The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike ride and exercise in public nudity, that has developed outside the organised naturism movement. Participants plan, meet and ride together en masse on human-powered transport (the vast majority on bicycles, but some on skateboards and inline skates), to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world".  Bodypainting is popular at these events. The WNBR shares some aspects of the philosophy of naturism in that it promotes a return to healthy exercise in unpolluted air at the same time promoting positive body image.
- In 1999, the Federation of Canadian Naturists commissioned a national survey on Canadian attitudes towards nudity which found that 8.9% of Canadian have visited or would visit a naturist facility. A further 11.6% have gone or would go skinny dipping in mixed company; that 39% go naked in their own homes; that naturists tend to have above average incomes; that urban dwellers are more likely to be naturist than country dwellers; and that the under 25s are the most likely to be naturists.
- In 1983, the Naturist Society in the United States sponsored a Gallup poll, which was repeated in 2000, which found the following:
|Do you believe that people who enjoy nude sunbathing should be able to do so without interference from officials as long as they do so at a beach that is accepted for that purpose?||72||24||80||17|
|Local and state governments now set aside public land for special types of recreation such as snowmobiling, surfing and hunting. Do you think special and secluded areas should be set aside for people who enjoy nude sunbathing?||39||54||48||48|
|Have you, personally, ever gone "skinny dipping" or nude sunbathing in a mixed group of men and women at a beach, at a pool, or somewhere else?||15||83||25||73|
- In 2005 the British CCBN commissioned a survey of members, which found that, among British people:
|Beach in UK||20%|
|Bed and Breakfast||6.6%|
In most European countries, nudity is not explicitly forbidden. Whether it is tolerated on beaches which are not marked as official nudist beaches varies greatly. The only country with substantially different laws is Denmark, where beach nudity is explicitly allowed on all beaches, except for two in the far west of the country.
Croatia is world-famous for naturism, which accounts for about 15% of its tourism industry. It was also the first European country to develop commercial naturist resorts. During a 1936 Adriatic cruise, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson stopped at a beach on the island of Rab where King Edward obtained a special permission from the local government to swim naked, thereby designating it the world's first official nude beach. Naturist beaches are marked with signs saying "FKK" for "Freikörperkultur," German for Free Body Culture. Unofficial beaches are sometimes called free beaches. Croatia's naturist facilities often focus on different visitor categories, including families, adults, gays, and those where everyone is welcome. Beaches also often are sectioned into these categories. Many naturist beaches (official or not) are within walking distance from centers of towns, villages or resorts. Many of the regular beaches have also a naturist section, usually at the end of the beach. Croatia has long been popular for bare-all beach holidays, especially with German and Dutch nudists. Koversada, an island linked by bridge to the Istrian mainland, is the oldest among 30 official naturist resorts. All are indicated by "FKK" signs but there are also scores of unofficial strips.
In Finnish culture, nudism is considered to be a relatively normal way to live. It is not uncommon to see entire families spending time together naked. Families may be naked while bathing in a sauna, swimming in a pool, or playing on a beach, and it's not unusual to see children playing naked in a family yard for example. Nudity as a whole is considered less taboo than many other countries.
In 1903 la Revue des deux mondes published a report on German naturism and S. Gay created a naturist community at Bois-Fourgon. In 1907, supported by his superiors, Abbé Legrée encouraged the students at his Catholic college to bathe nude on the rocky beaches near Marseille.
Marcel Kienné de Mongeot is credited with starting naturism in France in 1920. His family had suffered from tuberculosis, and he saw naturism as a cure and a continuation of the traditions of the ancient Greeks. In 1926, he started the magazine Vivre intégralement (later called Vivre) and the first French naturist club, Sparta Club at Garambouville, near Evreux. The court action that he initiated, established that nudism was legal on private property that was fenced and screened.
Drs. André and Gaston Durville bought a 70 hectare site on the Île du Levant where they established the village of Héliopolis. The village was open to the public. In 1925 Dr François Fougerat de David de Lastours wrote a thesis on heliotherapy. and in that year opened the Club gymnique de France. In 1936, the naturist movement was officially recognised.
Albert and Christine Lecocq were active members of many of these clubs, but after disagreements left and In 1944 Albert and Christine Lecocq founded the Club du Soleil with members in 84 cities. In 1948 they founded the FFN, in 1949 they started the magazine, Vie au Soleil and in 1950 opened the CHM Montalivet, the world's first naturist holiday centre where the INF was formed.
The naturist village Leucate and Cap d'Agde offers a different form of social nudity. Euronat is the largest holiday centre (335ha) situated 10 km north of Montalivet. Naturism employs more than 3000 people, and is estimated to be worth 250 million Euro to the French economy. France is represented on the INF by the FFN.
German naturism was part of the Lebensreform movement and the Wandervogel youth movement of 1896, from Steglitz, Berlin which promoted ideas of fitness and vigour. At the same time doctors of the Natural Healing Movement were using heliotherapy, treating diseases such as TB, rheumatism and scrofula with exposure to sunlight.
Nacktkultur, a term coined in 1903 by Heinrich Pudor, flourished. Nacktkultur connected nudity, vegetarianism and social reform. It was practised in a network of 200 members clubs. The movement gained prominence in the 1920s as offering a health giving life-style with Utopian ideals. Germany published the first naturist journal between 1902 and 1932. It became politicised by radical socialists who believed it would lead to classlessness and a breaking down of society. It became associated with pacificism.
In 1926, Adolf Koch established a school of naturism in Berlin; encouraging a mixing of the sexes, open air exercises, and a programme of "sexual hygiene". In 1929, the Berlin school hosted the first International Congress on Nudity.
During the National Socialist Gleichschaltung era, all naturist clubs had to register with the Reichsbund für Leibesübungen, which meant excluding Jews and Communists. Also, they had to keep all activities hidden in the countryside where there was little chance of being seen by others. The status as a West German sports federation member gave the clubs rights and privileges (e.g. tax exemptions) so the naturist clubs remained in the federation after the war had ended.
After the war, East Germans were free to practice naturism, chiefly at beaches rather than clubs (private organizations being regarded as potentially subversive). Naturism became a large element in DDR politics. The Proletarische Freikörperkulturbewegung subsection of the Workers Sports Organisation had 60,000 members. Today, following reunification there are many clubs, parks and beaches open to naturists. though nudity has become less common in the former eastern zone. Germans are typically the most commonly seen foreigners at nude beaches in France and around Europe.
Public nudity is prohibited in Greece and there are no official nude beaches. There are, however, numerous unofficial nude beaches especially on the islands frequented by tourists, like Crete, Mykonos or Karpathos but also on smaller islands like Skopelos or Skiathos where nudity is tolerated, usually at the more remote ends or secluded areas of beaches.
Public nudity is prohibited in Italy and can be punished with high fines, but in the recent decade, a few regions have created naturism laws to help the tourism industry.[better source needed] There are only a few permitted nude beaches in those regions, where nudity is allowed without risking legal consequences. On all other public beaches in Italy as well as normally tolerated nude beaches, police can potentially impose substantial fines.
On the other hand, female toplessness has been officially legalized (in a nonsexual context) in all public beaches and swimming pools throughout the country (unless otherwise specified by region, province or municipality by-laws) in 20 March 2000, when the Supreme Court of Cassation (through sentence No. 3557) has determined that the exposure of the nude female breast, after several decades, is now considered a "commonly accepted behavior", and therefore, has "entered into the social costume".
First reported naturist society was established in 1897 in Grudziądz. In pre-war and post-war Poland, naturism was practised in closed and secluded areas. Reported places for naturism were Zaleszczyki (in today's Ukraine) and Otwock. Under the communism regime, Poland's naturism became unofficial and was practiced mostly by the artistic boheme near Krynica Morska, Międzyzdroje and Dębki.
In the early 1980s naturism became popular mostly due to increased interest in media. As the pop song "Chałupy Welcome To" (about the naturist beach in Chałupy, featuring beach nudity in the clip) became the 1985 summer hit in Poland, the nude seaside locations like Chałupy or Rowy became known to an average Polish sunbather. Polish Naturist Society was formed and after the number of lawsuits, naturism became tolerated in selected "unofficial" beaches and distant spots.
In today's Poland naturism is practiced in number of the seaside and inland beaches. Most Polish beaches are actually clothes-optional rather than naturist. Among the most popular locations are Międzyzdroje-Lubiewo, Grzybowo, Rowy, Dębki, Gdańsk-Stogi and Piaski. The most popular inland locations include Warsaw (Wał Miedzeszyński), Kazimierz Dolny and Kryspinów near Kraków. In the winter season, naturism is practiced by organized groups in Warsaw and Tri-City. Public naturist events are held bi-monthly in Poznań-Koziegłowy and Łódź waterpark.
Naturism in Portugal had its first historical record around 1920, linked to the Portuguese Naturist Society, of which the anarcho-syndicalist José Peralta was a prominent member. Nudity was already being practiced on Costa da Caparica beaches. With the beginning of the New State authoritarian regime in the 1930s, the naturist movement was limited to vegetarian and alternative medicines, since nudity was banned and associated to the crime of "indecency". Only after the end of the New State regime in 1974 (April, 25th) the activities linked to the practice of nudity were resumed.
The Federação Portuguesa de Naturismo (Portuguese Naturist Federation) or FPN was founded on the March 1st, 1977, at a meeting in Lisbon.
At the present, there are seven official naturist beaches in Portugal. Besides these, there are several dozens of beaches where the practice of naturism is common. There are also several naturist campings and resorts.
Beginnings of naturism in Slovenia started in the year 1852, when a 29 year old Swiss physician Arnold Rikli visited Bled for the first time. In the following years he started to promote healthy way of living, because he considered water, air and light to be the source for his healing therapy. He continued to build spa centers which included light therapy and hydrotherapy treatment. His first visitors were most likely pilgrims from Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia region who visited the church on Bled island. When the word has spread across Europe, other visitors started visiting Bled known for Rikli's healing therapy. A method used in the healing therapy process included sunbathing and visitors were often seen walking nude in public. Rikli continued to promote his healing tourism for the next 52 years, when he lived in Bled.
Public nudity in Spain is not illegal since there is no law banning its practice. Spanish legislation foresees felony for exhibitionism but restricts its scope to obscene exposure in front of children or mentally impaired individuals, i.e. with sexual connotation. However, people do not normally use this right to be naked to do it anywhere, and most usually perform this activity in places where nudism is a tradition.
There are however some municipalities (like San Pedro del Pinatar) where public nudity has been regulated (banned) by means of by-laws. Other municipalities (like Barcelona, Salou, Platja de Palma and Sant Antoni de Portmany) have also used these provisions to regulate the practice of semi-nudism, forcing people to cover their torso on the streets. Some naturist associations have appealed these by-laws on the grounds that a fundamental right (freedom of expression, as they understand that nudism is a way of self-expression) cannot be regulated with this mechanism. Some judicial instances have ruled in favour of nudist associations.
Nudism in Spain is normally practised by the seaside, on beaches or small coves with a tradition on naturism. In Vera (Andalusia), there is a wide residential area formed by nudist urbanisations that constitute some kind of nudist town. Nudist organisations may organise some activities elsewhere in inner territory (like hiking on the mountains close to Madrid), but these kind of activities are negligible. Madrid municipality enables nudist use of some of their public swimming pools one day during summer.
Textile use of traditionally nudist public spaces (like beaches or streets nearby) is allowed, mainly due to lack of regulation. Mixed groups of nudist and textile individuals are frequent in these kind of spaces. In order to chase voyeuristic persons away, nudist people will normally clap their hands.
Legal aspects regarding topless are analogue to those regarding nudism, but social tolerance towards topless is higher. This let people not cover their breasts in public swimming pools and on any beach in Spain. The governments of the municipalities of Galdakao and L'Ametlla del Vallès legalized female toplessness on their public pools in March 2016 and June 2018, respectively.
In the United Kingdom, the first official nudist club was established in Wickford, Essex in 1924. According to Michael Farrar, writing for British Naturism the club adopted the name "Moonella Group" from the name of the owner of the ground, Moonella, and called its site The Camp. Moonella, who was still living in 1965 but whose identity remains to be discovered, had inherited a house with land in 1923 and made it available to certain members of the New Gymnosophy Society. This society had been founded a few years before by H.C. Booth, M.H. Sorensen and Rex Wellbye under the name of the English Gymnosophical Society. It met for discussions at the Minerva Cafe at 144 High Holborn in London, the headquarters of the Women's Freedom League. Those who were permitted to join the Moonella Group were carefully selected, and the club was run by an "aristocracy" of the original members, all of whom had "club names" to preserve their anonymity. The club closed in 1926 because of building on adjacent land.
By 1943 there were a number of these so-called "sun clubs" and together they formed the British Sun Bathers Association or BSBA. In 1954 a group of clubs unhappy with the way the BSBA was being run split off to form the Federation of British Sun Clubs or FBSC. In 1961, the BSBA Annual Conference agreed that the term nudist was inappropriate and should be discarded in favour of naturist. The two organisations rivalled each other before eventually coming together again in 1964 as the Central Council for British Naturism or CCBN. This organisation structure has remained much the same but it is now called British Naturism which is often abbreviated to BN. BN is currently a company limited by guarantee.
The first official nude beach was opened at Fairlight Glen in Covehurst Bay near Hastings in 1978 (not to be confused with Fairlight Cove, which is 2 km to the east) followed later by the beaches at Brighton and Fraisthorpe. Bridlington opened in April 1980.
In North America
In Canada, individuals around the country became interested in nudism, skinny-dipping, and physical culture in the early part of the 20th century. After 1940 they had their own Canadian magazine, Sunbathing & Health, which occasionally carried local news. Canadians had scattered groups in several cities during the 1930s and 1940s, and some of these groups attracted enough interest to form clubs on private land. The most significant clubs were the Van Tan Club, formed in 1939, and continues today in North Vancouver, BC., and, in Ontario, the Sun Air Club.
Canadians who served in the military during the Second World War met like-minded souls from across the country, and often visited clubs while in Europe. They were a ready pool of recruits for post-war organizers. A few years later, the wave of post-war immigration brought many Europeans with their own extensive experience, and they not only swelled the ranks of membership, but often formed their own clubs, helping to expand nudism from coast to coast.
Most of those clubs united in the Canadian Sunbathing Association, which affiliated with the American Sunbathing Association in 1954. Several disagreements between eastern and western members of the CSA resulted in the breakup of CSA into the Western Canadian Sunbathing Association (WCSA) and the Eastern Canadian Sunbathing Association (ECSA) in 1960. The ECSA endured much in-fighting over the next decade and a half, leading to its official demise in 1978. The WCSA continues today as the American Association for Nude Recreation – Western Canadian Region (www.aanr-wc.com), a region of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) which itself was formerly known as the ASA.
In 1977 the Fédération québécoise de naturisme (FQN) was founded in Quebec, by Michel Vaïs, who had experienced European naturism at Montalivet. In 1985 the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) was formed with the support of the FQN. In 1988 the FQN and FCN formed the FQN-FCN Union as the official Canadian representative in the International Naturist Federation (INF).
Federación Nudista de México is a members organization with both individual and organization members. It promotes social nudity in Mexico, and it is recognized by the International Naturist Federation as the official national naturist organization in that country.
As of 2016, Playa Zipolite is Mexico's first and only legal public nude beach. A "free beach" and unofficially nudist for more than 50 years, this beach is reputed to be the best place for nudism in the country. The numerous nude sunbathers, and the long tradition, make it safe for nudism and naturism. Annually since 2016, on the first weekend of February, Zipolite has hosted Festival Nudista Zipolite that in 2019 attracted 7,000-8,000 visitors.
Elsewhere, Mexican law condemns only "immorality" and thus the issue ends up being a matter of the judge's discretion. Private libertine, "lifestyle," or adults-only type resorts exist in Mexico that might not be characterized as naturist. See the list of social nudity places in Mexico.
Kurt Barthel founded the American League for Physical Culture in 1929 and organized the first nudist event. In about 1930 they organized the American Gymnosophical Association. Barthel founded America's first official nudist camp, Sky Farm in New Jersey, in May, 1932. Around 1932, AGA established the Rock Lodge Club as a nudist facility in Stockholm, New Jersey and Ilsley Boone, a Dutch Reformed minister, formed the Christian naturism movement. Naturism began expanding nationwide. Nudism venues were teetotal until 1970,
The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) is the national naturist organization. Arnd Krüger compared nudists in Germany and the United States and came to the conclusion that in Germany the racial aspects (Zuchtwahl) were important for the breakthrough (e.g. the Commanding General of the Army served as patron for nudists events), while in the U.S. nudism was far more commercial and had thus more difficulties. The AANR withdrew from the INF in 2010.[clarification needed]
In 2008, a young adults group organized as Florida Young Naturists held their first Naked Bash which has since been repeated 3-4 times a year, growing into one of the largest young naturist gatherings in the world.
In 2009, a campaign to promote Nudism in the United States occurred with an effort by AANR to record the largest simultaneous Skinny Dip at several U.S. Clubs and beaches, occurring on July 11 of that year.
In 2010, A new organization formed called Young Naturists and Nudists America which was mostly focused around the younger generation as well as social issues, such as body image. Young Naturists and Nudists America closed in 2017.
In 2014, an organization called Unconstitutional Arkansas was created to highlight the unconstitutionality of laws that prohibit or impede nudism. The organization uses Arkansas law § 5-68-204 as a case study, but claims all anti-nudism laws infringe the constitutional right to assemble.
Generally, public nudity in Asia is not tolerated. However, some traditional, religious or cultural nudity has survived the introduction of Western moral values against nudity, such as the Jain Digambara monks in India, hot springs in Taiwan and Japan, and some traditional tribes in Papua. Nudism and naked recreation is slowly developing in some countries, mainly Indonesia (Bali) and Thailand. Nudists meet on the internet (e.g. Bareskinasia.com) and organize activities in remote or private locations. Several nudists also have their own blogs.
In the seventies, nudity on Bali's remote and deserted beaches was common but with the massive growth of tourism, this practice has disappeared. In 2002, nudity was declared illegal on Petitenget Beach, the last beach in Seminyak that tolerated discreet nudity. Individuals began to practice nudity in private villas and resorts. Laki Uma Villa, the first naturist facility to open, was for gay men only. Bali au Naturel, the first adult-only nudist resort for both genders, opened its doors in 2004. It subsequently expanded from 3 to 15 rooms and added from two more swimming pools.
Nudism is considered taboo in Nepal. Although there are no laws governing nudism, people may be detained, arrested and fined for public nudity. Nevertheless, many Hindu male sages practice nudism and they are not legally detained. Nudist sages can be seen in Pashupatinath.
Nudism was successfully introduced in 2012 by The Thailand Naturist Association in Pattaya (Chan Resort), and six more nudist resorts have been created all over Thailand. Barefeet Resort in Bangkok, Lemon Tree in Phuket, Oriental Village in Chiangmai, Phuan Naturist Village in Huay Yai, and Peace Blue Naturist resort in Phukett all members of the Naturist Association of Thailand as well as other international naturist organizations. 
In many Middle Eastern countries, people are not allowed to be nude in public places. Furthermore, women in Iran and Saudi Arabia must wear hijabs.
Naturism addresses, challenges and explores a myriad of sometimes taboo subjects: stereotypes and mores relating to the nude appearance of the human body, mixed sex nudity, personal space, human sexuality, gymnophobia, modesty, physical attractiveness, vanity, objectification, exploitation and consent. It can thus be controversial. Descamps assembled a list of criticisms of naturism: it is too cold; normal bodies look ugly—it is only for the physically beautiful; it is too embarrassing; it is against the laws of nature, against the law, or against religion; "nudism makes me think of sex"; it is for primitive people or animals.
Naturism can sometimes contain aspects of eroticism, although the debate about this is often simplified and seen negatively in the media and the public mind and by many modern naturists and naturist organisations. Historically the experience and discussion of erotic feelings during naturist activities such as dance and gymnastics played an important part in early Germanic naturism and formed part of its 'positive' connection with nature. However, it was when naturism arrived in the more sexually conservative cultures of the UK and the United States that the expression and discussion of eroticism within naturism became frowned upon.
Glenn Smith states, "The main reason younger people are not becoming naturists is the inability of modern naturism to engage with the issue of sexuality. While it is true that "naturism became popular in Germany...as a healthy outdoor lifestyle", this lifestyle also included a recognition that, socially, nudity could sometimes be erotic. It was only when naturism arrived in a more sexually conservative Britain that sexual feelings were censored out to make naturism culturally acceptable. This statement is in response to the quote "The world of naturism is in trouble. Membership is falling, and fewer young people than ever are getting involved. Has the great nude adventure run its course?"
Issues for the naturist community
Many countries and states have laws which adversely affect naturists. Oftentimes, these laws are intended to address "indecent exposure", but are so broadly written that they criminalize ordinary, non-sexual nudity. Some laws, however, specifically target naturism. For example, in Arkansas in the United States, not only is nudism illegal (even on private property), it is a crime to "promote" or "advocate" (i.e. express a favourable opinion about) nudism.
Any social group is said to go through four phases: forming, storming, norming, performing, wrote Bruce Tuckman in 1965. In this context one can understand some of the current pressures on various aspects of naturism:
- Naturist club isolation: established clubs excluding new members and rejecting new ideas.
- A family movement in a time of social change: a change in needs and expectations, away from one of a permanent commitment towards one of change and choice.
- Multi-gen preferences: each generation is a specific social group which needs to have its own norms that are consistent with common rules.
- Clubs vs. holiday centres: organizations with different roots find it difficult to establish common rules. The contention between those espousing a year-round commitment to an ideal, and those who see it as summer-only recreation. Club naturism is declining, while the number of people that assume naturist facilities will be available at any holiday resort is rising. The number of users of free beaches may exceed the number of people who wish to join a club.
- Paid staff and volunteers: many clubs were established as cooperatives, but the values change when a few members put in the capital or work needed. This became more difficult when some members were paid to act as site managers.
- Infiltration by other groups: for many years clubs had strict "No singles" policies to maintain the family nature of the club. Many other social groups practice non-family nudism, whether it be social singles, gay naturists or swingers.
- Exhibitionists and voyeurs: as unwelcome in a naturist community as in a clothed community.
- Risk of being filmed in nude without permission, such as at nude beach. Such photos and videos can then be put on internet.
- Sunburn and skin cancer.
- Large numbers of clothed people visit clothing optional and nudist beaches and make the naturists feel uncomfortable, "like they've become a spectacle".
- An issue, a decade ago in naturist resorts like Cap d'Agde has been the clash between "fundamentalist" naturists and the échangistes who are sexually open on the naturist beaches and bars.
Magazines published by, for or purportedly about naturists can be grouped:
- Magazines published by an "official" national organisation, such as BN (British Naturism), Going Natural/Au naturel (FCN/FQN), Nude & Natural Magazine TNS, gonatural (New Zealand Naturist Federation).
- Independent magazines published for naturists, such as Naturally, H&E naturist and TAN (acronym of The Australian Naturist).
- Magazines that print photographs only or primarily of young female professional models, which are disapproved of by many naturists and non-naturists alike.
Magazines in the second and, occasionally, third grouping feature naturist editorial and advertising, while some naturists argue over which magazines belonged in which of these categories – these views may change as publishers and editors change. Many clubs and groups have benefitted from magazines which, while not exclusively or even predominantly naturist in character, made naturist information available to many who would not otherwise have been aware of it. (These days, the information and advertising provided online, and the wide availability of free online porn, has meant the disappearance of old-style 'skin' magazines presenting significant glamour content masquerading as or alongside naturist content. Naturist magazines have to appeal strongly to naturists to succeed – they cannot sit on the fence between naturism and glamour.) Some naturists still feel that the worthwhile editorial content in some magazines is not a fair balance for the disapproved-of photographic content.
Photography, films and videos
Some naturist clubs have been willing to allow filming by the media on their grounds, though content that proved not to be of genuine naturism can end up being parodied by the media as the norm.
Some commercial 'naturist' DVDs are dominated by imagery of naked children. Such material can be marketed in ways that appear to appeal directly to paedophile inclinations, and ownership of these DVDs (and their earlier video cassette incarnations) has resulted in successful British prosecutions for possession of indecent images of children. One case was appealed, unsuccessfully, to the European Court of Human Rights. The precedents set by the court cases mean that possession in Britain of any naturist image of a child is, potentially, grounds for prosecution.
- The Hannover based Bund für freies Lebensgestaltung wrote "Naturism is a new lifestyle caring for the body, the soul and the spirit in society. We live the ideal of freedom, conscious of its limits, taking up our responsibility. The expression of our will is nudity, our admission of sincerity.
- In his book, Cinema Au Naturel, author Mark Storey states "two related terms that we will continually run across are nudist and naturist. Although, the meanings of the two terms are virtually identical, they often have different connotations for those who prefer one to the other. In America people who believe that it is physically, socially, emotionally, and perhaps spiritually healthy to go about fully nude individually and in groups of mixed sex whenever weather permits and others are not offended generally refer to themselves as "nudists". In Europe such people more often than not refer to themselves as "naturists".
- The English version of the Agde definition was translated differently in Guide Mondial de Naturisme 96 97. Naturism (American "nudism") is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and the environment.
- Ray Connett, Sunny Trails, in Sunbathing for Health Sept 1947 p 8, July 1957 p 14 writes that Naturism is a weasel word that can mean anything
- Presently, Mark Storey is authoring an article detailing historical use of the terms naturism and nudism and how they differ between different cultures, countries, and time periods in history. In a telephone interview by Daniel Johnson on 15 April 2006 with Storey he stated that "a draft of the piece was posted on the "References" page of The Naturist Society web site for a few weeks". At the time of its former release in October 2004 it was titled Naturism, Nudism, or Nameless? A History of Terms He is planning on publishing a revised article as soon as additional information and errors are corrected.
- The three biggest centres on the Médoc are Euronat 335 ha, CHM 175 ha with a 3 km beach, and La Jenny 127 ha
- "Le naturisme est la doctrine qui consiste à laisser agir la nature plutot que d'intervenir de manière artificielle".
- Crawford wrote a series of letters discussing his new club and its philosophy to the socialist Edward Carpenter between 1891 and 1892. In his letters to Carpenter, Crawford described his daily activities.
- "Calderwood and I were up at Matheran having two days’ holiday to spend naked from breakfast to evening [...] in June, Calderwood and I had a grand day. We went away to a bungalow in the Tulsi Lake without servants and spent from dinner time Saturday till 5 pm Sunday in nature’s garb".
- Photography in public nude beaches Nudists who visit public nude beaches may be photographed by street photographers, social documentary photographers, photojournalists or other kinds of photographers without the nudists' knowledge and in the United States and most democratic countries the photographers have the law on their side as no individual has an expectation of privacy in a public place and photographers are not required to have the naturists' consent before photographing them or publishing and selling the pictures or videos. In many countries there exist private nudist areas in which photography is not allowed and naturists who wish to not be photographed can enjoy their activities there. However, naturists who wish to not be photographed in public nude beaches have found various ways to make the photographers leave the beach, such as photographing the photographer and publishing such photos. Some nude beaches provide fences that block the view from nearby streets.
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